FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

US Rides Weapons Bonanza Wave

War, instability, and high oil prices have created a perfect storm of profit for the world’s weapons manufacturers. This year, military analysts predict the biggest arms bonanza since 1993 which is saying something because in the aftermath of the first Gulf War the global industry reaped the benefits of a $42 billion arms race.

As the world’s largest producer and exporter, the United States is riding the wave. For fiscal year 2006, which ended on September 31, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency churned out notices for $21 billion in arms sales offers . In most cases, that agency is required to notify Congress of all potential major arms deals worth more than $14 million. In one typical day-September 28-the DSCA issued notification on $5.5 billion in agreements. South Korea would get $1.5 billion in Patriot missile equipment and other hardware, Turkey was offered a $2.9 billion package including 30 F-16 fighter planes, while Jordan and Chile were also offered weapons packages.

While not all deals are finalized with arms deliveries, these notifications are a way of taking the pulse of the weapons market and it is racing. U.S. a rms sales offers for 2006 appear to be roughly twice the levels of any other year during the Bush administration. Noteworthy among these are the $5 billion deal for F-16s to Pakistan and a $5.8 billion agreement to completely re-equip Saudi Arabia’s internal security force.

The Perfect Storm

In the case of Pakistan and other allies in the war on terrorism, sales are booming as sanctions and embargoes imposed because of human rights concerns or nuclear proliferation are being lifted. For Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich nations, the price at the pump (which topped $3 a gallon this summer) freed up cash for weapons. Finally, war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in corners of the globe where the war on terrorism is being waged more quietly, allows foreign militaries to see some of the most advanced weapons systems in action. As one U.S. government source told The Times of London in August: “Conflicts act like a customer demonstration show and we tend to see an upsurge in sales because other countries [are] impressed by what is available.”

This storm equals rainbows and pots of gold for the defense industry. For example, Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest weapons manufacturer, stands to reap more than $11 billion in possible new offers. U.S. weapons companies may have patriotic slogans (Lockheed Martin’s is “We Never Forget Who We’re Working For”), but foreign sales mean the biggest bucks because they involve systems where research and development costs were covered by the Pentagon. Also, they are often accompanied by lucrative deals for accessories, spare parts, and eventual upgrades.

But, what means money in the bank for Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and other defense corporations, often means misery where the weapons are shipped. Despite having some of the world’s strongest laws regulating the arms trade, almost half of U.S. weapons end up in countries plagued with ongoing conflict and governed by undemocratic regimes with poor human rights records. According to the annual Conventional Arms Sales to the Developing World released by the Congressional Research Service in November, the United States provided countries in the developing world with more than $11 billion in U.S. arms last year. Of these 25 countries, all had human rights problems according to the State Department’s Human Rights Report, and 10 (including three of the top five) were “undemocratic” in the sense that citizens of those nations “did not have a meaningful right to change their government” in a peaceful manner.

This is the eighth year in a row that the United States has led in global arms deliveries. The United Kingdom trailed in second with $3.1 billion and Russia was a close third, at $2.8 billion in arms deliveries. Together, these three weapons exporters where responsible for almost 70% all arms delivered worldwide last year.

In late October, the United Nations began work on the Arms Trade Treaty, which is aimed at curbing arms transfers to major human rights abusers and areas of conflict. The treaty would also urge weapons suppliers to limit weapons sales likely to undermine development in poor nations. The United States was the only country to vote against the resolution, while 24 (including many other major weapons suppliers) abstained.

The General Assembly will take the next step, but without the active participation of the world’s largest weapons producer and exporter, this important mandate will not be strong enough to counter the perfect storm of profiting from war.

FRIDA BERRIGAN is a columnist for Foreign Policy in Focus and Senior Research Associate at the World Policy Institute’s Arms Trade Resource Center. Her primary research areas with the project include nuclear-weapons policy, war profiteering and corporate crimes, weapons sales to areas of conflict, and military-training programs. She is the author of a number of Institute reports, most recently Weapons at War 2005: Promoting Freedom or Fueling Conflict. She can be reached at: berrigaf@newschool.edu

 

 

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Nevins
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Jasmine Aguilera
Beto’s Lasting Legacy
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
Yves Engler
Ottawa, Yemen and Guardian
Michael Winship
This Was No Vote Accident
Binoy Kampmark
The Disgruntled Former Prime Minister
Tracey L. Rogers
Dear White Women, There May be Hope for You After All
Faisal Khan
Is Dubai Really a Destination of Choice?
Arnold August
The Importance of Néstor García Iturbe, Cuban Intellectual
James Munson
An Indecisive War To End All Wars, I Mean the Midterm Elections
Nyla Ali Khan
Women as Repositories of Communal Values and Cultural Traditions
Thomas Knapp
Scott Gottlieb’s Nicotine Nazism Will Kill Kids, Not Save Them
Dan Bacher
Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California
Christopher Brauchli
When Depravity Wins
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail